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Teen S. Korean swimmer breaks own world junior record in nat'l team trials

All News 19:23 May 16, 2021

JEJU, May 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korean teen swimming sensation Hwang Sun-woo broke his own world junior record in the 200-meter freestyle on Sunday, turning himself into a dark horse at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

Hwang, 17, won the men's 200m freestyle race at the national team trials with a time of 1:44.96.

He had owned the previous world junior record with 1:45.92, set during last year's national team trials in November.

South Korean swimmer Hwang Sun-woo reacts to his victory in the men's 200-meter freestyle race at the national team trials with a world junior record time of 1:44.96 at Jeju Sports Complex in Jeju, Jeju Island, on May 16, 2021. (Yonhap)

Hwang's time from Sunday is the world's fourth-fastest time in the 200m freestyle this year, though swimming powerhouses, such as the United States and Australia, haven't completed their Olympic trials.

Hwang finished just 0.16 second shy of the South Korean national record (1:44.80), set by Park Tae-hwan when he won the gold medal at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games.

More importantly, Hwang's record would have been good enough for the silver medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016. Sun Yang of China won gold with 1:44.65 and no one else broke the 1:45 mark.

The teenager is now dreaming big.

"I was shocked that I finished in the 1:44 range," Hwang said at his post-race press conference at the swimming pool at Jeju Sports Complex in Jeju Island. "I felt my time would be pretty good because I had a good race. And once I saw the result on the board, I was pretty excited. I realized winning an Olympic medal won't just be a pipe dream."

South Korean swimmer Hwang Sun-woo competes in the men's 200-meter freestyle race at the national team trials at Jeju Sports Complex in Jeju, Jeju Island, on May 16, 2021. (Yonhap)

Lee Jeong-hoon, head coach of the national swimming team, said Hwang's performance on Sunday will allow him to adjust his goals at Tokyo.

"We were hoping he'd come in around the early 1:45 range, and that would be good enough to compete at the Olympics," Lee said. "Now, we should try to go for a medal, instead of just settling to make the final (for the eight best swimmers from the preliminaries)."

South Korean swimmer Hwang Sun-woo (C) celebrates after winning the men's 200-meter freestyle race at the national team trials with a world junior record time of 1:44.96 at Jeju Sports Complex in Jeju, Jeju Island, on May 16, 2021. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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